The Cat and the Kid
A beautiful, angry book, full of cats and pancakes
The Cat and the Kid is a book about characters who go against the grain. It tells the story of a black-and-white alley cat and a sullen teenager, both of whom are, in their own way, searching for security and friendship. Cat finds those things under Lucas’s comforter, but unfortunately for Cat, Lucas makes no secret about his dislike of animals. There isn’t too much that is cuddly about Hazelhoff’s cats. They scratch, pee outside the litter box and keep you awake at night when they don’t get their way.
In spite of that Lucas’s house gradually turns into an animal shelter. With a mixture of reluctance and a sense of duty, mother and son take pity on one stray after another who wander into their world. Lucas’s mother has just gotten divorced, and it is clear that the broken family could use a bit of activity, but fortunately Hazelhoff doesn’t lay this on too thick.
Above all it is Cat’s commentary, sprinkled throughout the book in italics, which makes the book so funny. Lucas has an admirer in Nedda, a girl who is crazy about cats and comes every day to clean out the litter box. Cat is the only one who notices this, and Lucas threatens to spoil her tentative advances with his gruff behavior. Hazelhoff creates real people, who may seem unpleasant at first but who still sneak their way into your heart and stay there. The sort of people you need to have a little patience with. In her own distinctive way she manages to handle the all too predictable expectations of her public without alienating it.
In The Cat and the Kid, Hazelhoff has found a perfect balance between a good story and good style. Her language is full of life, and there isn’t one word too many. She leaves out what is predictable, and that’s a good thing, since nine-year-olds quite capable of thinking for themselves. A thoroughly well-balanced book by a dyed-in-the-wool author.
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